Online Paralegal Degree Programs

Most entry-level paralegal positions at law firms require a bachelor degree. In fact, a bachelor degree in paralegal studies is the most common path to becoming a paralegal. The law is involved in a variety of aspects of society and online paralegal degree programs provide students with a solid education in legal studies that prepares them for a variety of careers in the field of law. Paralegal students complete legal coursework and understand how to relate paralegal studies to other subjects and apply the relationships in legal settings. Read more about online paralegal degree programs.

Some Stats

In 2006, there were 1,496 bachelor and 35 master degrees conferred in legal assistant/paralegal (1). In 2006, paralegals and legal assistants held about 238,000 jobs with 7 out of 10 being employed by private law firms and most of the others employed by government and corporate legal departments. Also as of 2006, 1,000 law schools, colleges and universities, and proprietary schools offer formal training as a paralegal, with 260 of those programs being approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) (2).

Employment Outlook

The employment outlook of paralegals depends on the degree and position, but the overall employment of paralegals and legal assistants is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions from 2006 to 2016, increasing by 22% and adding 53,000 jobs. The average annual salary for paralegals with less than 1 year experience is between $29,881 and $39,741 (3).

Specialties

Since paralegals practice in many areas of law there is a wide variety of specialties in paralegal education. Specialization is typically achieved through general paralegal coursework by selecting courses on a specific specialty and on the job training. The most common paralegal specialties include litigation, criminal law, business/corporate, collections, bankruptcy, foreclosure, labor/employment, real estate, appellate practice, securities, tax, family law, environmental law, intellectual property, personal injury, estate planning and probate, and contract administration. Students who are interested in a specific specialty should select a school that has a strong program in that particular area.

What to Expect

Paralegal degree programs provide students with a solid foundation in law practices and theory. Bachelor degree programs intend to provide students with a broad education in liberal arts with specialized skills for paralegal careers. Many programs focus on legal processes and administration and legal documentation, drafting, and writing. Coursework also typically includes legal terminology, legal history, legal ethics, environmental studies, literature, legal research, and law computing.

The End Result

An undergraduate degree in paralegal studies is a versatile and helpful degree that enables graduates to pursue a variety of different career opportunities. It also provides a solid educational foundation for students to purse advanced education. Career opportunities for paralegal graduates include:

Legal Administrator
Legal Assistant
Legal Secretary
Compliance Paralegal
Litigation Paralegal
Contracts Paralegal
Labor and Employment Paralegal
Real Estate Paralegal
Probate and Estates Paralegal

Individuals who have a sincere interest in the American legal system and enjoy fast paced and stressful working environments will view a career as a paralegal as rewarding. Paralegals are well-rounded legal professionals that adapt well to many different situations. They provide essential legal assistance to lawyers and help bridge the gap between the law office and the courtroom.

(1) SOURCE: U.S. National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics
(2) SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2008-2009 Edition
(3) SOURCE: Payscale.com, Salary Survey Report

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